13th Grade: Adding Up The Cost Of Remedial College Courses

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By Mc Nelly Torres and Lynn Waddell
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

Students and Florida taxpayers pay a price for remedial education in several ways.

From 2004 to 2011, Florida’s remedial education costs for both students and schools ballooned from $118 million to $168 million. At the same time, state college funding has declined $544 million since 2007, causing tuition increases and creating a greater need for publicly funded financial aid.

About This Story

The series “13th Grade” is the result of a collaboration between the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida.


Read other parts in the series.

Research shows that young adults with college degrees earn about 40 percent more than those with some college and around two-thirds more than people with a high school diploma.

The dropout rate of Florida’s 2010 graduating class cost the state $132 million in lost income and $19 million in lost federal taxes, according to an American Institute for Research estimates.

Even still, tuition increases at community and state colleges don’t fill the gap in state funding. Educators and students are forced to do more with less. At the same time, elected officials emphasize that our economic recovery depends on a retooled, more educated workforce.

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate the U.S. demand for workers with two-year college degrees will see the most rapid growth — a 63 percent increase in the next decade. To meet these demands, according to Georgetown Center’s analysis, the nation must produce 22 million college graduates, but projections show that we will fall 3 million short.

Bob Wise, a former governor of West Virginia who is now president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, D.C.-based policy and advocacy group, said the U.S. economic recovery depends on students graduating from college.

“Our economy can’t thrive if we don’t deal with this problem and graduate more students to join the workforce,” Wise said.